The Jon Breen Letter 5-24-06

The Jon Breen Fund

Mount Vernon High School

100 California Road

Mount Vernon, NY 10552



May 24, 2006


Dear friends and fellow classmates,


Greetings: from spring-like Tarrytown that overlooks the majestic Hudson River. This spring and letter marks the thirteenth edition of the Jon Breen Fund, which has attempted to accomplish some simple tasks. The first of these tasks was to perpetuate the name and memory of Jon Breen, a good personal friend to many of us and a great contributor to the overall success of our class of 1963. In the last few months I have been making contact with Patti Nash Ballantine, who lives in Texas and is a member of the AB Davis Class of 1955, Linda Young Shapiro (her brother was the late Howard Young) and Mona Donner Schlossberg, members of the Davis Class of 1956, who had their 50th reunion on April 29th. Their website is a joy to see. I was asked to contribute some of my essays on Mount Vernon to its “share a memory” section and I have. You can see all of my musings at But, through that website I have made some wonderful connections with another group on Hilltoppers and they have shared a great many pleasant thoughts and recollections with me about their lives and families. I would like to see one of our classmates put together the same effort for our upcoming 45th and 50th reunions.


The second of these tasks that the Jon Breen Fund has allowed me, is the forum to reach out to young people, find out what is on their minds, and try to impart on them my experiences and perspectives. Through our public policy essays, of which there have been close to 2000, I have learned a lot about what these young people are thinking. As much as the times have changed, human nature stays relatively the same. People want a secure and normal life for themselves and their progeny. Most people, regardless of race, creed or national origin want to contribute to society, make a decent living and provide for their loved ones. Where has that been said before? Accordingly this year’s essay will focus on the problems of illegal immigration and its positive and negative impact. Not ironically Mount Vernon today is the home of many immigrants. They come from almost every part of the world. In our day, the children and grandchildren of immigrants from an earlier generation dominated our class, but some were most recently from Nazi oppressed Germany in the 1930’s, war-torn Europe in the early 1940’s and Hungary in 1956. Of course the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, at Constitution Hall, on April 21, 1938, when addressing the Daughters of the American Revolution, I quote, “ Remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists…” Many were not happy to be so reminded.


Thankfully the winter had been mild and therefore all of our heating bills, in spite of the oil spike, have been almost tolerable. It will be quite interesting next November to see how the electorate will view the ongoing morass in Iraq, the problems of “open” borders, the price of gasoline at the pump, and the continued upsurge of religious influence in our political life. Politics aside, I was able to enjoy a great and unusually warm January 30th  (My daughter Dana’s birthday) when I drove up to Hyde Park to be part of the 124th remembrance of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The weather was great and there was a great address by Elizabeth Daniels, the 87 year-old Vassar College historian who had the pleasure of meeting and knowing the Roosevelt’s. If you check my website you can read “A Drive up the Taconic.”


Since my last Jon Breen letter of September 21, 2005, the Yankees again came up short in their quest to regain the World Series title and the football season came and went with no great surprises except the utter collapse of the Jets. Again, my wife Linda and I were able to get a lot of indoor tennis in this winter in our various games. We are both looking eagerly forward to getting outdoors to play once again. Over the fall and winter we traveled once again to Scottsdale, where we have time-sharing and up to lovely picturesque Sedona. This winter we were still able to continue our effort to get into the city with Mary and Warren Adis and one evening we had dinner with Michael and Sandy Rosenblum in NYC at the Shanghai Grill, a great place. The Mary and Warren Adis are off to Alaska this summer to see their daughter who spends her summers there. I keep up often with Alan Rosenberg and his continued interest in New York sports. Unfortunately his wife Wendy just recently lost her brother. Joel Grossman’s father passed away and Warren Adis and I attended his funeral in Scarsdale. I had known Walter for over 55 years. Barbara Blumberg Baron was up in White Plains and also made a call to Joel’s home. As usual I have been getting meaningful input from Stan Goldmark regarding MVHS sports history. I had received an email from Michael Schlanger (Davis 1961) about memories regarding the 1961 Davis basketball team. Meanwhile Marcia Salonger, also active NYC real estate, told me of her exciting ski trip to Italy, Mitchell Gurdus (MVHS 1965) is keeping busy in sunny Florida, Bill and Joan Bernstein are still enjoying retirement in Florida and we continue to exchange emails and phone calls regarding politics and societal developments. Lew Perelman who is a professional thinker, and with his wife Isabella they are both working on her musical career. I talked recently to Elaine Knopping Haimes whose son met my niece Amanda in London. Jane Zimelis Cohen is still active with charitable fund-raising in Los Angeles and I was able to talk to her not that long ago. Richard Hoffman is back in Washington working on a new commission. Richard Hoffman, Jane Zimelis, Shelly Greenberg, Joe Gerardi, Norman Raphael, and Arnie Siegel have all been recent contributors to the Jon Breen Fund, along with my good friend Robin (Fisher) Lyons (Davis 1958) whose sister Bonnie was in some of our grammar school classes. Alyson Bochow Cohen’s (MVHS 1966) son is getting married and she was quite disappointed with UCONN’s recent exit from the “March Madness” event and their 40th reunion is coming up in the fall. Every once in a while I visit Laura Kosof Fluhr’s store (Michael’s) on Madison Avenue and she’s keeping busy hasn’t changed an iota. Michael and Sandy Rosenblum are active in real estate in the NYC and have been buying new homes all over the place. Dr. Larry Reich has sold his surgery practice in Los Angeles, and is into new ventures. Jimmy Kurtz and his wife Jan came and returned from an extended trip to Africa. Mathew Goldberg has been contributing interesting emails on public policy from his home in Oakland. I always get great jokes from Lee Jackel Egan from Florida. Armel MacDonald always appreciates remembrances about Henry Littlefield. I see Fran Sanders McKinley at High Holy Day services in Hastings. This spring we flew down to Grand Bahama Island and had a great week of swimming, sunning and tennis in the 80+degree weather.


Meanwhile the third task of the Jon Breen Fund has been to enable me to reconnect with many of my old friends from those Davis years and Mount Vernon in particular. That effort has been quite fulfilled. I have had a unique opportunity of speaking to many of our friends from those days, and I am happy to report that many are doing quite well, their children are mostly all grown up, and they like many of all of us cherish those Mount Vernon memories.


You can contribute to the Jon Breen Fund or the Henry M. Littlefield History Award by writing me at the above address, or sending a check directly to MVHS at 100 California Road, Mount Vernon, NY 10550 c/o Ms. Diane Petilli.





Richard J. Garfunkel


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